Mar
31
2010

Beck: No to Censoring Foes, Yes to Violent Death

Appearing on the O'Reilly Factor (3/25/10) to discuss being named by Joy Behar as one of the media figures the View panelist (3/22/10) says are inspiring hate among Tea Party activists ("There is a difference between free speech and hate speech, and we've been listening to it from Beck and Limbaugh now. And these people are all juiced up by these two. That's what's happening"), Glenn Beck attempted to demonstrate his tolerance for his political foes in the following exchange: BECK: Have you or I ever said Michael Moore shouldn't be allowed to make a movie? O'REILLY: No. BECK: Michael […]

Jan
22
2010

Newspeak 2010

The First Amendment confirms the freedom to think for ourselves. –Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy (1/21/10), granting corporations the power to spend untold billions to do our thinking for us

Aug
25
2009

The Downside to Murdoch's Plan to Control Online News

The problem with Rupert Murdoch's proposal to create an online news consortium, in which major publishers would all band together to put their news content behind pay walls (L.A. Times, 8/21/09), is that it's not illegal to discuss news events online. And you don't want to make it illegal to discuss news events online. And yet, absent a law forbidding such discussions, there's nothing to stop someone from buying subscriptions to the various pay news sites and starting a website (like this one, but more so) in which they write about what they've learned from them–thus offering for free what […]

Jun
30
2009

Someone (Who Could Have Been a Justice) Is Wrong on the Internet

Richard Posner is the sort of judge who gets mentioned as a possible Supreme Court nominee because of his supposed brilliance. But, then, he's also the person who wrote this: Expanding copyright law to bar online access to copyrighted materials without the copyright holder's consent, or to bar linking to or paraphrasing copyrighted materials without the copyright holder's consent, might be necessary to keep free riding on content financed by online newspapers from so impairing the incentive to create costly news-gathering operations that news services like Reuters and the Associated Press would become the only professional, nongovernmental sources of news […]

Jun
26
2009

Why I Couldn't Say What Dan Froomkin Said Reporters Should Do

I wrote a short item on Dan Froomkin's firing for FAIR's radio show CounterSpin today: One of the bright spots at the Washington Post media enterprise was Dan Froomkin's column, "White House Watch," for WashingtonPost.com. It often struck us that Froomkin had a whole different attitude–skeptical of those in power, and critical of their journalistic enablers–than most of his colleagues at the Post Co. So it was perhaps not too surprising to hear that Froomkin, one of the Post's most popular online writers, had been fired–not long after his column was placed under the authority of editorial page editor Fred […]

Apr
15
2009

If Google Is Handing Out Free Money, Newspapers Would Like Some

Maureen Dowd today (New York Times, 4/15/09) writes about the newspaper industry's complaints about Google: Robert Thomson, the top editor of the Wall Street Journal, denounced websites like Google as "tapeworms." His boss, Rupert Murdoch, said that big newspapers do not have to let Google "steal our copyrights." The AP has threatened to take legal action against Google and others that use the work of news organizations without obtaining permission and sharing a "fair" portion of revenue. But what's fair will be hard to prove. First of all, Google is not stealing anyone's copyrights; quoting the headline and a small […]

Mar
27
2009

'Freedom' Means Using the Name They Tell You To

For the New York Post (3/27/09), it's "Free Dumb Tower." For the same day's New York Daily News, it means "No More Freedom." They're talking about 1 World Trade Center, which is what the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey announced it was calling the skyscraper it's building on the site of the old World Trade Center destroyed on September 11–rather than Freedom Tower, as it had been previously referred to. And the tabloids, naturally, are outraged. "Freedom is out of fashion at Ground Zero," declared the Post. "Once hailed as a beacon of rebirth in the aftermath […]

Mar
03
2009

First Amendment Subordinated to War Needs

"First Amendment speech and press rights may also be subordinated to the overriding need to wage war successfully." –The official position of the U.S. government from October 23, 2001 until October 6, 2008 Why do I get the impression that this was seen as a feature, not a bug?

Feb
23
2009

Copyright Law in Aid of Corporate Cover-Up

Raw Story (2/22/09) has a report that illustrates, in passing, the ridiculousness of how copyright law is applied on the Internet. The story concerns a McDonald's employee in Arkansas who threw an abusive customer out of the restaurant and got shot, and the hamburger company's refusal to pay the injured employer workers compensation because the worker's "injuries did not arise out of or within the course and scope of his employment." Surely there's a legitimate public interest in the question of whether corporations pay compensation in such cases. And if you want to have an informed opinion on this particular […]

Feb
21
2009

Racist Sheriff Hates Arizona Media Too

The February 18 Democracy Now! segment on Fox reality TV star Sheriff Joe Arpaio features Arizona's East Valley Tribune reporter Ryan Gabrielson telling Amy Goodman exactly how Arpaio's officers went to the homes of the two publishers for Phoenix New Times, which–there was an investigation being conducted into a case where New Times published Joe Arpaio's home address in its paper and online. And Arizona has a kind of interesting law where you're not allowed to publish online the address of law enforcement. And so the sheriff had been pushing our county attorney to do an investigation and prosecute the […]

Feb
06
2009

Dewey Defeats Truman; AP Hopes to Defeat 1st Amendment

We noted recently Fox News' peculiar understanding of the Fair Use doctrine, which allows writers, artists and others to make reasonable use of copyrighted material so long as they don't infringe on the copyright owners' commercial rights; Fox interprets this to mean that critics should only be allowed to make use of Fox video if Fox is allowed to sell ads to run alongside the criticism. Now another corporate media company is making strange claims against Fair Use. The Associated Press is claiming that the well-known "HOPE" poster of Barack Obama violates its copyright, because artist Shepard Fairey used an […]

Nov
27
2008

Press Freedoms Require 'Constant Vigilance'

The folks at Free Press recount (11/25/08) how, "when St. Paul police launched a violent crackdown on journalists covering the Republican National Convention," the media reform group "needed an on-the-ground organizer to pressure city officials to drop the charges against the journalists"–luckily they "knew just the person to call: Nancy Doyle Brown of the Twin Cities Media Alliance": With only two days to organize, Doyle Brown called media reform advocates throughout the city, rallying support for the petition delivery and the press conference. Free Press coordinated with its local members to prepare for the event and ensure a strong media […]

Nov
24
2008

'How Parodies Work' in the Internet Age

The ever-vigilant Electronic Frontier Foundation announces (11/18/08) its representation of "a New York City community organizer [who] is fighting back in court after her parody website challenging redevelopment efforts in New York City's historic Union Square was shut down with bogus claims of copyright infringement and cybersquatting": As one part of her education campaign, [Savitri] Durkee created a website parodying the official website of Union Square Partnership…. In response, USP sent Durkee's Internet service provider a notice pursuant to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act improperly asserting that her parody site infringed USP's copyright, leading to the shutdown of the site. […]